“Political discourse is the Las Vegas of Christianity—the environment in which our sin is excused. Hate is winked at, fear is perpetuated and strife is applauded. Go wild, Christ-follower. Your words have no consequences here”– Bryan Roberts.
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve had two people talk to me about the Christian’s role in politics. One person wanted to be involved. As a Coloradan, she is concerned about the direction of the state. She sees recent bills considered and laws passed concerning sex education, oil and gas, and the ridiculous popular-vote law (mini soap box: we’re a republic made up of individual states, not a national democracy made up of individuals – if you want a metropolitan oligarchy where all the power is held in a few large cities, then celebrate because we are one big step closer). This woman wanted to make sure that it wasn’t wrong in God’s eyes to join a movement to recall the governor. Quite simply, should Christians be involved in the political process?
The second person I talked to had very strong feelings that Christians should not be involved in politics. Yes, all should vote. But protesting and being involved in recalls and the like is not something that should be filling the Christian’s time. We are citizens of a higher kingdom, and we should be spending our time fulfilling our higher calling. Her questions was, shouldn’t Christians avoid being involved in the political process?
These are great questions raised by godly women for whom I have great respect. My answer to the first question is “Yes”. My answer to the second questions is “Yes”. These two answers are not contradictory if we make one simple adjustment to each question – drop the plural. Should Christian (as in “this Christian, the one asking, ‘I’”) be involved in the political process? Obviously, the Holy Spirit has laid on her heart a desire to affect change – not just to vote change, but to lead and participate in change. As long as she keeps the main thing the main thing (we’re here on a spiritual mission), then she should run with her passion all the while bringing Christ’s light into the political world.
Shouldn’t Christian (“this Christian, the one asking, ‘I’”) avoid being involved in the political process? Yes, this particular Christian has not felt that leading. In fact, the Holy Spirit has specifically led her to stay out of politics. So, she’ll vote and leave the political wrangling to those who have the spiritual gift of political wrangling. One thing she must be sure to never do, however, is to judge those who are heavily involved in the political process. And one thing the first woman must be sure to never do is to judge those who are not led to involvement in the political process.
There is often a tendency to see “calling” as one-size-fits-all. “God has given me such a passion for this that I can’t imagine anyone else not doing it, too. In fact, if they aren’t doing it then they are likely ignoring God’s will for their lives.” This is particularly true in the pro-life movement. If abortion is murder, then how can you not be out protesting? However, there is no one-size-fits-all ministry calling. Calling is similar to spiritual gifts – they are doled out by God to His people according to His will in order to accomplish His purpose. Where God has called you, run with all your might. Where He has not called you, understand that He has called others. Pray for them and cheer them on as they run the race that is theirs.
To close off, I want to go back to that great quote that started this blog. For many who do pay attention to politics, they treat their discourse like they’re taking a spiritual vacation in Sin City. Facebook is the discount bar at the Bellagio and Twitter is the showgirl revue at Caesar’s. The gracious, merciful, love-your-neighbor-as-yourself believer logs in and it’s no-holds-barred hedonism for the session. Attack whomever you want to attack (after all, they are the enemy). Forward whatever you want to forward (I’d never use language like that – I’m so glad they said it for me). Deride whatever politician you disagree with (they are swamp – they deserve it). It’s open season, because what is said in Vegas stays in Vegas.
The problem is Vegas containment is a falsehood. There are three audiences for our rants. The first is God. Jesus says, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36) This includes the words we speak with our mouths, the words we speak with our fingers, and the words that we endorse with our forwards.
The second audience is other Christians. Our Christian family sees and hears what we write and say, and their opinion of us is affected. One may say, “I don’t care what people think of me. They shouldn’t be judging me anyway.” But you should care. We are told to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) That’s difficult to do when our words have caused us to lose the respect of the believers around us.
The third audience is non-Christians. In the great list of “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People”, up near number one is “Tell people that they are evil, hateful stooges who are dumber than a box of rocks.” It’s hard to tag on a “Oh, and by the way, Jesus loves you” to the end of that statement. We are here on a mission, and our number one loyalty is to affect God’s kingdom rather than our earthly one.
This last week, our Eastern Plains Pastors Network met with a couple guys from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). This is the group that defended Jack Phillips – the cake baker. One of the guys told the story of when there was a crowd protesting outside of Phillip’s shop. They were holding signs, chanting, and yelling all sorts of vile things at the workers and the customers. So how did Jack fight back? He baked a bunch of cookies and sent them out to the protesters, who apparently enjoyed them very much.
Disagree, but do it in love. Oppose, but do so with humility. Defend, but never forget that at all times we are Christ’s ambassadors on earth, and our words must always remain true to the One that we are representing.
Roberts, Bryan. “7 Things Christians Need to Remember About Politics.” RELEVANT Magazine, 1 Feb. 2016, relevantmagazine.com/current16/7-things-christians-need-remember-about-politics/.